Locals bring electrifying energy to Brooklyn Pride celebrations

people parking at brooklyn pride parade
Thousands of people celebrated Pride at the Brooklyn Pride Parade on June 8.
Photo by Donna Aceto

Pounding music blared from loudspeakers along Fifth Avenue, families lined the sidewalks with rainbow flags and decorated dogs, and countless community groups marched through the streets of Park Slope on June 8 in what appeared to be the most well-attended edition of Brooklyn Pride since the pandemic.

The twilight march represented the culmination of day-long festivities to commemorate Brooklyn Pride, which takes place annually on the second weekend of June. The day started with a LGBTQIA+ 5k run/walk and the 28th annual multicultural festival, which set the stage for the 7:30 p.m. twilight parade.

gay geeks of NY at Pride
The Gay Geeks of NY table was one of many booths on display at the multicultural festival.Photo by Donna Aceto

As the sun inched below the horizon, Ronald Lett, a Brooklynite with the New York City Department of Sanitation, sat at a table with Rainbow Flags before stepping off for the first time at Brooklyn Pride. Lett previously attended Pride events, but had yet to march in Brooklyn Pride.

“We want to let people know that the department has LGBTQ members so they can feel welcome to join and march with us,” Lett explained. “It’s just a general feeling of welcoming.”

dykes on bikes at brooklyn pride
Dykes on Bike, with messages of support for trans rights and abortion rights, roar along Fifth Avenue. Photo by Donna Aceto
salga at pride
Salga NYC, which has served the South Asian queer and trans community of New York City since 1992, enjoys the festivities. Photo by Donna Aceto

Casey Selzer, a midwife and mother of three who lives in Park Slope, was all smiles as she lined up to march with Oula, a modern maternity clinic.

“Midwives support all people to have equal rights in birth and perinatal care, so we’re here to celebrate,” said Selzer, who has also attended Brooklyn Pride in the past. “It just feels important to come out.”

Many of the usual groups — including schools, libraries, elected officials, churches, corporations, and more — marched down Fifth Avenue behind several contingents of elected officials representing multiple levels of government. Attorney General Letitia James, a mainstay at Brooklyn Pride, drew loud cheers from her hometown crowd as she waved a Rainbow Flag and moved to the beat of the music.

jumaane williams at pride
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams joined in on the celebrations. Photo by Donna Aceto

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who replaced James after she was elected attorney general, trailed just steps behind her. Members of the City Council, including individuals from the LGBTQIA+ Caucus, marched alongside other City Council colleagues, followed by Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso and State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, who previously represented Brooklyn’s District 39 in the City Council, also marched along with other elected officials.

Some other electeds marched with LGBTQ political clubs, including State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, who was with the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, which marched alongside The Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City.

council members at bk pride
Council Members Chi Ossé and Crystal Hudson at the parade.Photo by Donna Aceto

The crowd continued to swell as the march proceeded southeast along Fifth Avenue. The area surrounding Ginger’s Bar near Fifth Avenue and Sixth Street was packed to the brim with revelers who spilled onto the parade route to greet marchers as they danced along to bumping music.

Cheer New York stopped at multiple points to perform acrobatic dances, while other groups had pounding music reverberating from their elevated stages — including AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Maimonides Health, and the New York Liberty and Brooklyn Nets’ contingent. The NYC Dyke March contingent, with about two dozen marchers, also brought intense energy, as did Fogo Azul, an NYC-based drum line featuring women, trans, and non-binary individuals.

cheer team at brooklyn pride
Cheer New York performs during the twilight march. Photo by Donna Aceto

Some of the loudest cheers of the evening, however, were reserved for the many youth contingents participating in the twilight parade — including rainbow clubs at schools such as P.S. 20 in Clinton Hill and P.S. 107 in Park Slope. 

sign at brooklyn pride
Young Brooklynites and local school rainbow clubs showed their support. Photo by Donna Aceto

Like on Pride Sunday in Manhattan, many of the restaurants and bars along the parade route were adorned with Rainbow Flags and at least temporarily transformed into queer venues for the evening. Business was booming all along Fifth Avenue, with bars and restaurants packed to capacity with Pride-goers. 

This year’s grand marshals at Brooklyn Pride were Dr. Sandra Scott, the interim CEO of the One Brooklyn Health System, and Tiq Milan, a trans public speaker, thought leader, cultural influencer, and writer.

pride celebrations
The celebrations were loud and proud. Photo by Donna Aceto

Brooklyn Pride also announced the recipients of the Volunteer Grant Program, which provides funds to organizations in the community. This year’s grant recipients were the Free to Be Youth Project, Gay for Good-NYC Chapter, and Cheer New York.

The next borough-wide Pride event is slated for June 22 when the Bronx hosts Da Bronx Pride Festival. NYC Pride and the Reclaim Pride Coalition’s Queer Liberation March is scheduled to take place on June 30.

This story first appeared on Brooklyn Paper’s sister site Gay City News